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Conflicts in Burundi, South Sudan Dominate AU Summit

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 30, 2016.

African heads of state are expected to address some of the most pressing violent conflicts on the continent, such as Burundi and South Sudan. They are meeting in Addis Ababa for two days at African Union headquarters.

Despite its theme of human rights, with a particular focus on women, this African Union summit is once again focused on security issues. With 17 African countries holding elections this year, the consequences of leaders clinging to power is also frequently discussed.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the outgoing chairperson of the African Union assembly, has been in power since 1980. He said he was not impressed by those who criticize leaders with long office terms.

“You have been in power for too long, you must now allow another body also to take over. Is that democracy? And that was coming from Europe. Tell them to shut their mouths,” he said.

Burundi, South Sudan, and terrorism are the security issues topping the agenda of the African Union Summit.

Burundi violence

Violence in Burundi erupted last year after its president announced his intention to seek a third term in office. Opposition groups said the move was unconstitutional. The violence led the African Union Peace and Security Council last December to send in African peace keeping forces.

Burundi’s foreign minister, Alan Nyamitwe, said Friday night the country is not allowing African troops into Burundi:

“We wanted to let everybody know in the council that the problems of Burundi have to be solved by Burundians through peaceful and political means," he said. "The support that Burundi needs does not take the form of troops. You can think of any support, we can sit down and discuss. But when it comes to troops, our position has not changed, that’s a no-go area.”

Burundi was re-elected to the African Union Peace and Security Commission this week, even though the summit is to further decide on the issue.

The African Union Summit will wrap up on Sunday evening.